Title: Love-Love Rival?!
Theme: sm-monthly LJ community: February (Usagi and Mamoru) 6th - "Stately Lover" by Lacuna Coil
Genre: General
Version: Anime
Rating: G
"And I can breathe now...

I just need you miserably
broken man come to me
I just need you desperately
just want to change your mind"

- "Stately Lover" by Lacuna Coil


Tsukino Usagi overheard the words in the bathroom, just when she was about to flush the toilet. She was lucky the doors of the stalls in her new high school reached all the way to the ground, so no one knew she was there. There were three voices, none of them familiar. They were talking about things girls usually talked about at their age - gossip, romance and rumors. However, today, for some reason, Usagi paused as the one unfamiliar voice said a bit shyly, "I saw him again today..."

"Oh?" another voice pipped up surprised.

"He was at the Crown Arcade," the first voice continued. "I was a bit surprised since... he looked different somehow than I remembered..."

"Hey, are you talking about Chiba Mamoru-san, the guy you went all hearts in your eyes for when you were late?" A third voice joined in to tease. "My older brother went to the same high school as him, you know? I have to say, you're setting your standards to a bit high, don't you think? He's a college student now, you know?"

"Hey!" the second voice protested. "How can you say that to destroy the love and hopes of a blossoming young woman?"

"My older brother tells me he has a girlfriend already. Says she's from our high school, too, you know?" The third voice continued, this time a bit haughtily.

"You mean that dark-haired girl I saw him meeting? She wasn't wearing our uniform, but she really was very pretty..." Usagi stiffened at this, slightly annoyed. Why does everyone assume that her Mamo-chan was going out with Rei-chan? Usagi wondered. She always thought that she looked rather more princess-like and elegant than Rei (especially since she was the Moon Princess)... well... between detentions and tripping, she was rather graceful!

"I heard she's a miko... but I'm sure my older brother wasn't lying when he said the girlfriend he saw Chiba-san with was from our school." There was a pause and the girls seemed to think this over.

"Have you seen her?" the first voice asked softly, uncertain and sad.

One of the girls laughed. "Hiriko-san, you're really cute but Chiba-san is way out of your league." Usagi nodded at this, agreeing vehemently from behind the stall door, her hands on her hips in determined agitation at the conversations. Her righteous indignation was cut off when the bell rang. The other girls eeped and shuffled out of the bathroom quickly. Once Usagi was sure they were gone, she flushed and went out, her eyes fierce and stubborn. No one was going to steal her Mamo-chan from her!

---

"Well, he can't help it if he's a stud," Makoto said with a laugh behind her hands. "I'm sure that girls fall for Mamoru-san all the time." The four of them were walking to the Crown Arcade after Rei dropped by from her school. Minako assured them she'd meet them there later, since for once, she got a detention and Usagi didn't.

"Still, it doesn't give them the right to talk about my Mamo-chan like that..." Usagi grumbled.

"You're just jealous because they thought I was his girlfriend," Rei pointed out with a smirk on her lips. "But, alas, I can't help it if I'm beautiful too."

"Hey," Usagi stuck her tongue out at her best-friend. "You're just jealous you were the one he dumped for me!"

"Yeah, well, I can't help him if he's blind!" Rei fought back by sticking her tongue out at Usagi in return.

"Are you worried, Usagi-chan?" Ami sighed at the display and tried to get the topic back on track. "Mamoru-san wouldn't ever betray you."

Usagi beamed at this. "I know, I'm so beautiful and all, how could he possibly resist...?" Usagi trailed off when she saw a girl a little older than her, looking through the Crown Arcade. Could that be...?

"Hiriko-chan, I swear, you're obsessed!" Another girl with pig-tails cried out as she ambled up to Hiriko. Usagi's stomach rumbled in discontent, which was always a bad sign. The odango-blonde quickly hid behind Rei and her dark-haired friend looked at her a bit annoyed and a bit amused, at the same time.

"What is it, Odango-atama? We're almost at the Crown and I know you are not afraid of the video-games." Rei rolled her eyes and then realized Usagi wasn't baiting for once. The three of them followed her gaze and saw the back of a petite black-haired girl talking to another pig-tailed girl.

"So, which one is she?" Makoto whispered as the four of them looked from the corner of a building where they all hid.

"It has to be..." they paused when they saw that one girl was rather plain looking and not that cute as the pig-tailed girl. Usagi breathed a sigh of relief, though her friends wasn't sure who Hiriko was yet, not realizing that she was the plain one.

"It has to be the pig-tailed one, right?" Rei hissed once she saw that the pig-tailed girl was far prettier, though a little chubbier too, than the actual Hiriko. The others seemed to be in agreement about this as they all leaned forward a little to try to get a closer look at the pig-tailed girl.

Usagi laughed a little nervously. "Ah... not really..."

"You're telling me you were worried over--?" Rei blew at her bangs and sighed. "Well, now I know both you and Mamoru-san are blind. May you two not lead each other into ditches." Rei huffed and rose from where she had been squatting, throwing her long mane of hair over her shoulder and strategically hitting Usagi a bit in the face. "Idiot!" She stuck her tongue out at Usagi and walked confidently passed the two girls, Hiriko looking after her with a bit of apprehension in her eyes.

"Yup, that's her alright," Usagi acknowledged.

"Hey, is she trying to talk to Rei-chan?" The three of them paused to see Hiriko suck in a deep breath and chase after Rei. "God, she'll need divine guidance for this type of confrontation." Makoto pointed out. Everyone agreed, especially since the she was definitely not aimed at Rei.

"Is Rei-chan actually going to talk to her?" Usagi asked in disbelief when they saw Rei look a bit surprised at the confrontation.

"I hope she doesn't laugh at her," Ami said a little worriedly.

"What are you girls doing?" The three of them jumped to see Luna standing at the side-walk, looking at them expectantly.

"L-Luna!" Usagi hissed and grabbed her guardian cat into the alley with them. "Rei's confronting my Love-Love rival!"

Luna squinted at the girl Rei was talking to and then raised her brow when she saw what Hiriko looked like. "You're worried about a Love-Love rival who looks like that?" The dark cat asked incredulously. Usagi had faced far more beautiful, powerful, and confident women (evil or not) than the timide and plain school girl before them.

"Is she coming over here?" Makoto asked all of a sudden, incredulous and uncertain as Rei practically dragged Hiriko towards them.

They all froze as Rei led (with her usual forcefulness) Hiriko over to them with a determined look in her eyes. "Look," Rei pointed at the shocked and still squatting, Usagi. "That's the lazy, good-for-nothing girlfriend that's dating Mamoru-san. I have nothing to do with him." The dark-haired priestess pointed Usagi out with her usual show of pride.

"Eh?" Usagi blinked at the finger surprised before she register what Rei had just said about her. "H-hey--!"

"But even so, you are never going to win his love." Rei continued, ignoring Usagi's protests completely, something she had master after years of squabbling. "Mamoru-san loves that idiot with all of his heart, and even though Usagi doesn't know how to use that brain of hers very well--" Usagi was definitely complaining at this point and it took both Makoto and Ami to restrain her "--she always knew how to open her heart to others. I don't care how much you think you can love Mamoru-san, but she will always beat you there. Her love is a lot stronger than yours, so give it up. She's far more selfish about him than you'll ever be!"

There was silence as Hiriko eyed Rei wearily and then looked at Usagi who was stomped on whether that last line Rei used to dissuade her current rival was a compliment or an insult. "I've..." Hiriko swallowed a bit harshly. "I've loved him for a long time, Usagi-san." Hiriko said finally as she turned from Rei's fierce and intimidating expression to look over at the odango blonde at last.

Up close, it was clear that her features were indeed more plain than even Usagi had thought from where she had been standing. Hiriko's stance not at all confident. However, as she spoke, her face lit up and her posture changed, and Usagi saw her glow a little (which surprised everyone). "I first saw Chiba-san when he was still in grade school. He was three years my senior and the top student in our school. A lot of people admired him and even the high school girls would fawn over him wherever he went. He was really a star, even though he was never arrogant about it." Rei rolled her eyes at this as she had her own opinions on Mamoru's arrogance, but didn't interrupt Hiriko. "I never told anyone," Hiriko paused at this, "but I noticed that Chiba-san was always alone, no matter how many people admired him or wanted to include him in their activities." Hiriko gave a nervous little smile at this. "I... understood a little of him then, because I have always been alone too. Even though I don't understand all his pain, I have always watched over him whenever I could..."

Hiriko clasped her hands together and looked at the speechless Usagi with as much courage as she could muster - which wasn't a lot - but she tried. "I won't try to steal him from you, Usagi-san. I noticed that Chiba-san was a lot happier lately, so I would never try to hurt him by taking away the person that he has allowed to stand by his side. I know he has never allowed anyone there before, and I'm happy even if I'm a little sad too. But..." Hiriko held her hands close to her heart. "I can't stop loving him because you are his girlfriend, either!"

Usagi looked at the plain Hiriko, who was probably overlooked a lot in her life. The type of girl who never tried to stand out and would one day become a house-wife, forgotten by the world. She looked at Hiriko, whose smile became beautiful when she talked about Mamoru, how her ordinary brown eyes sparkled with life and her body seemed to come alive. And there was Hiriko, the girl who loved from the side-lines, never expecting anything back but dreaming and hoping the best for the one she loved, even though everyone who has ever found out about her feelings had told her how out of her league, Mamoru was (assuming that she was just too shy to try).

Usagi gently pulled away from Makoto and Ami's slackened grasps and walked over to Hiriko, clasping the other girl's hands with her own. "I don't trust you," the odango-blonde grumbled a bit, smiling just as nervously but trying to be honest about how she was feeling at the moment. Even she was a little bit awed, because Usagi would never have been able to just love Mamoru in the shadows (eventually, she'd want to have all of him and loving from afar would never be enough). It was a type of pain and longing that she could not have with-stood, and before her was a girl about her age who has done what she was lucky in never having to really have to endure for such a long time herself. Looking at Hiriko, Usagi saw how things could have been, if Mamoru failed to remember her, or if she had lost him to somebody else. "Mamo-chan is the most important person to me too, so I too can understand how you feel, Hiriko-san." Hiriko looked down at their joined hands with an uncertain expression and then timidely glanced back at Usagi's face. "I won't ask you to... leave us alone." Usagi struggled with herself on this but the relief on Hiriko's face was surprisingly uplifting. "We don't always chose who we love, right, Hiriko-san? All we can do is... love him."

Hiriko looked at Usagi in surprise before smiling that bright smile, that rare feature on her plain expression that made her as "cute" as her classmates had called her earlier. "Thank you, Usagi-san!" Hiriko beamed. "I-- Thank you." And Hiriko bowed, her words trembling with feelings she could not suppress before she blushed at having done such an outrageous thing - talking to the girlfriend of the man she loved. Quickly, Hiriko pulled away, running over to where her friend had watched them, a little wearily, from afar.

"Ne, ne, what did that girlfriend of Chiba-san's want with you, Hiriko-chan?" The other girl's voice drifted to them, filled with worry.

Hiriko only shook her head and smiled. "Love is strangely consuming, don't you think, Miyuki-chan?"

"You weirdo," Miyuki rolled her eyes as the two disappeared down the road.

"That was very noble of you," Makoto smiled a little sadly after the pair.

"Well, what can you expected from our resident idiot?" Rei laughed theatrically, trying to hid the proud shine of admiration in her own eyes for Usagi's actions.

"H-hey! How dare you call me an idiot... and in front of my Love-Love rival!" Usagi argued back, remembering past statements now that they no longer had an audience.

"Well," Rei shrugged. "I just wanted her to get an idea of how big a mistake she was making, mistaking the two of us like that."

"Guys..." Ami waved her hand pleadingly but no one was really looking at her now as everyone began to head towards the Crown Arcade again.

"Don't worry, Ami-chan," Luna sighed. "Those two will confound even the gods themselves!"

Ami smiled gently at this and shook her head. "Luna," the blue-haired girl shook her head a little playfully, before looking to her friends. "Sometimes, we underestimate people too, don't you think?"

"Hurry up, Ami-chan!" Makoto yelled out at Ami from the front door of the Arcade. "Mamoru-san said he's treating us!"

"I'm coming!" Ami nodded and smiled down at Luna again. "I'll see you later, Luna! And if you see Minako-chan, tell her the good news, okay?" Ami asked, rising to go after her friends. "Luna," the blue-haired girl called to the bemused cat after she walked a few feet, pausing at a last minute thought. "Love can really change us, don't you think?" Without waiting for an answer, the other girl went into the arcade.

Luna smiled after them, her eyes proud at the women the Senshi were all turning out to be. "Yes, Selenity-sama," Luna flicked her eyes up at the pale moon in the afternoon sky. "You would be proud at how much they have grown."


End.